New European Commentary


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Deeper Commentary

Psa 12:1 For the Chief Musician; upon an eight-stringed lyre. A Psalm of David.
Help, Yahweh; for the Godly man is fading away, the faithful fail from among the children of men-
"Him who is Godly" is a term he has used about himself in his marvel at God's grace to him at the time of the sin with Bathsheba, believing that his trust in God's grace and justification by that grace was to be the pattern for all who afterward would be "Godly" (Ps. 32:6). Here he seems to lament that few were following in that path. It has perhaps always been a sense of the righteous that they are in a decreasing minority.

Psa 12:2 Everyone lies to his neighbour, they speak with flattering lips, and with a double heart-
David is very critical of all his enemies, especially Saul. He sets up a contrast between the righteous and the unrighteous. But his attitude changed somewhat after his sin with Bathsheba, in connection with which he did much of what he accused Saul of, not least willfully exposing Uriah to an ambush so he would be murdered. Therefore Rom. 3:10-14 alludes to Ps. 12 (from the LXX) and applies it to all men, the righteous included; leading to the conclusion that we are only made righteous by grace through faith.

Psa 12:3 May Yahweh cut off all flattering lips and the tongue that speaks great things-
These "flattering lips" may have been of false prophets, for the phrase is used in this connection elsewhere (Is. 30:10). Probably Saul had false prophets who assured him that he was in fact doing the right things. For kings of those times usually had their entourage of such prophets. See on :8.

Psa 12:4 who have said, With our tongue we will prevail. Our lips are our own, who is lord over us?-
This great confidence in their words may be because they were false prophets, claiming they were inspired by God; see on :3. One unusual, indeed unique, claim of Yahweh upon men was that their words and thoughts were culpable. Other gods focused upon external behaviours and ritualism. Just as the false gods of our age do likewise. Hos. 14:2 speaks of our lips being offered as calves of sacrifice to our God. Our words are so critically important, and they will influence our eternal destiny (Mt. 12:37).

Psa 12:5 Because of the oppression of the weak and because of the groaning of the needy, I will now arise, says Yahweh; I will set him in safety from those who malign him-
David's prayer of :1-4 now appears to be interrupted by God's word directly to him, assuring David that He is going to arise in judgment.

Psa 12:6 The words of Yahweh are flawless words, as silver refined in a clay furnace, purified seven times-
I suggested on :5 that David has been praying in :1-4 and then in :5 God speaks directly to him, giving him a prophetic word assuring him of vindication. And now in the rest of the prayer (:6-8), David rejoices in those words of :5, although his comment upon the nature of God's words is also globally true. "Flawless" is the usual word for "pure". Yahweh's words are being contrasted with the impure words of the wicked, which have been the burden of David's complaint so far.

Psa 12:7 You will keep them, Yahweh. You will preserve them from this generation forever-
David appears to see the righteous in Israel at his time as a minority, persecuted by "this generation", society as a whole at the time.

Psa 12:8 The wicked walk on every side, when what is vile is exalted among the sons of men
- "Vile" is a word usually associated with idolatry, the pervasive weakness of Israel in every generation. It would seem that the false prophets of Saul (see on :3) were also associated with idolatry, and this was behind their persecution of Samuel and David. See on Ps. 16:4.